Stop inspections during lambing – Sinn Féin
Sheep farmers are unhappy with the timing of sheep inspections and the risk it poses to pregnant ewes.

There have been calls for Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to put a stop to sheep inspections at this time of year due to the risk to heavily pregnant ewes.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for agriculture Martin Kenny told the Minister: “I have being contacted by angry farmers who have been selected for sheep inspections and are being forced to gather all their sheep both on lowlands and the mountains and pen them up for the Department to inspect them.

"Surely, the Minister and his Departmental officials know that we are heading into lambing season and sheep are heavily pregnant and vulnerable.

"It is recognised that stress to sheep is a major cause of sheep aborting lambs and also causes difficulties and complications during the lambing process."

Kenny also pointed out that farmers in mountainous areas are not being given sufficient time to gather their flock as they are "battling inclement weather conditions" and called on Minister Creed to use "common sense and stop these inspections until lambing season is over".

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Lamb prices steadying but confusion over EID grows
After weeks of heavy cuts there is finally some stability entering the lamb trade.

Lamb prices are showing more signs of stability with a slight dip in throughput and lower volumes of sheepmeat processed. Farmers are securing €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg in the main with some producers with large numbers of in-spec lambs securing up to €5.00/kg. At the top end of the market, producer groups are securing up to €5.10/kg for lambs.

Meanwhile, there is pressure building on the Department to delay the introduction of mandatory EID tagging from 1 October. Farm organisations have reiterated their position that full EID tagging is unworkable in its proposed format with a lack of clarity on its implementation adding to uncertainty. This is a view echoed by the country’s leading tag manufacturers who say farmers are delaying ordering tags, which is likely to lead to delays in processing and tag supplies later in the year.

Lamb price steadying after falls
A small reduction in throughput and a larger mix of light lambs has helped steady the trade for lambs.

It has been a difficult period for lamb producers, with heavy cuts severely reducing returns. Fortunately the trade seems to be steadying now and further heavy price cuts were not implemented this week. Farmers are securing €4.90/kg to €4.95/kg in the main, with some producers with large numbers of in-spec lambs securing up to €5.00/kg. At the top end of the market, producer groups are securing up to €5.10/kg for lambs. Throughput has not been as strong as recently and may have helped to hold price.

The total sheep kill decreased slightly last week to a total kill of 60,303 head. This is down approximately 2,000 head on the week previous. Lamb numbers were back too at 49,006 head, down 2,784 head on the week previous.

The reduced supply may have helped contribute to the steadying in price as factories realised numbers were going to be a little tighter than expected. Weaning has taken place on the majority of farms and any lambs fit for slaughter have been drafted now. This may be telling in the recent dip in supplies.

Farmers have also been adjusting to the current weather situation and many have made the decision to supplement lambs with concentrates. Some farmers who have killed lambs off grass alone were left disappointed with kill-out and they feel concentrates will now be required to reach adequate flesh cover. The big rush to sell lambs is subsiding somewhat as a result and this should help to steady the trade and ward off further price cuts.

Meat yields in factories also took a hit over the last fortnight as many farmers took the option to offload lighter lambs. This will have an impact on the overall amount of meat they can market and it results in a slight deficit in supply.

Some factories are warning that they will cut prices for lambs under 15kg carcase weight. They continue to ask farmers to draft lambs carefully, checking weight and flesh cover.

At the same time, however, some factories continue to accept light lambs bought in by their agents in marts. These lambs would usually be destined for store finisher’s farms. This may be a sign that some factories have been making do with light lambs to maintain throughput because in-spec lambs were harder to come by in recent weeks.

Quotes for cull ewes have fallen again this week, with some factories reducing quotes by 10c/kg to 20c/kg. Quotes range from €2.70/kg to €2.90/kg. Prices paid range from €2.90/kg to €3.00/kg.

Northern Ireland

Quotes in the north have fallen slightly again this week. Quotes are ranging from £3.95/kg to £4.00/kg or the equivalent of €4.67/kg to €4.73/kg at 89p to the euro and including 5.4% VAT.

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Prices steady after falls